Amos Taulaga didn't realise he was struggling with his mental health. It was early 2020, and while he felt life was perfect, several life changes caused his mental health to go downhill quickly.
It wasn't until after attempting to take his own life that he realised he needed to seek help. "What I realise is I was severely unwell for a long period of time; I was just masking it by being extremely busy, like most people in life are. I had a lot of responsibility as a parent, and I was working as well as studying full time. And that busyness kept me steering away from the issues that I was having," Amos said. "I just didn't have the coping mechanisms to deal with what was happening and have the insight to understand what was going on."
Amos has come a long way since, and he's leaned into both professional support and made a number of lifestyle changes to get his mental health to where it is now. "I'm really proud of the journey I've come through. There was a lot of hardship, especially with my suicidality and getting to that point where I thought I wasn't good enough to exist," he said.
This year, his mate convinced him to join the Murray To Moyne cycle relay from the Murray to Port Fairy on April 2 and 3 as part of the Let's Talk team ambassadors. Let's Talk Foundation is a charity focused on changing the culture around mental health in Australia and encouraging and supporting people to seek help if they need it.
Amos only actually took up cycling 10 weeks before the event, and as part of the relay, he covered around 200 kilometres through some fairly strong crosswinds but believed it was a small price to pay. "I said to myself, 'what's a couple of saddle sores and some sore legs for a couple of days'," he laughed.
Like the Let's Talk Foundation, Amos has become a passionate advocate for encouraging people to talk about mental illness. He knows first-hand how people - particularly men - can find it difficult to open up and talk about their feelings. But he's also learned how powerful it can be when you do.
"Men are quite guilty of not opening up because we think we've got it all figured out and that we're bulletproof. The reality is we actually need to lean into others," he said.
These days he invests in his physical and mental wellbeing and says connecting with others is one of the most important things for keeping his mental health in check. "Things like sporting communities and having really good friends and social connections are imperative parts of good mental and physical health," he said.
"And I think that social connection with other people gives men who are usually quite reserved enough courage and enough validity to open up about who they are and how they feel. And I think that's a really important conversation to have."
This story is from the new edition of Your Mental Health magazine. Click here to read the entire publication online.
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